How Did the Women's
International League for Peace and Freedom
Campaign against Chemical Warfare, 1915-1930?
The German's first use of poison gas in Belgium in 1915 set off a wave of protests against the use of chemical weapons in warfare. After the war was over, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) mobilized to outlaw the use of chemical weapons in future conflicts. Because many people believed that the next war would bring massive civilian casualties from poison gas, WILPF tried to use that fear to rally support for a broad disarmament program. Although these efforts failed to bring a halt to spiraling armaments or ease world tensions, they did introduce women's social movements as important actors in national and international politics. The fact that two of WILPF's founders, Jane Addams and Emily Greene Balch, were later honored with Nobel Peace Prizes highlights the group's importance in world affairs in the interwar years.